Monday 19 February 2018

Harvest Monday - February - time's a-flying

I had a coldy-flu-cough thing for a few days last week so didn't think I'd have much to write about this week. I was especially annoyed to be stuck inside during some sunny days. But hooray, towards the end of the week and over the weekend the sunshine continued and I spent a happy few hours pottering around on the plot, clearing weeds and laying out homemade compost. I try to disturb the soil as little as possible, so after hoeing off annual weeds I just put the compost on top of the cleared soil, easy peasy. For any perennial weeds (like the dreaded couch grass, which I've mainly got rid of already), I just loosen the soil with a fork and pull the roots out, without turning the soil over. This means that all the fungi highways moving nutrients throughout the soil remain largely undisturbed, the soil structure isn't damaged, the soil doesn't dry out as much and all the wee microscopic organisms can live happily, making a lovely nurturing environment for my veggies to grow nice and strong. 

Talking of which, I harvested more kale, leeks and mizuna this week. I'm really impressed with how well the mizuna does over winter without any protection. One thing I wish I'd checked on though is my purple sprouting some point recently the chickenwire mesh I had them covered with had been blown off by the incredibly strong the local wood pigeons a tasty feast of PSB leaves, darn! So I covered them back over and fingers crossed they grow back again....they should do, plus I don't need that bed for ages so I'm not in a rush to remove the plants.

The last two nights we've had a surprisingly tasty saucepan-meal with the leeks, onion, garlic, kale, French beans (from the freezer), red lentils and tinned tomatoes, with mashed potato. As ever, it tasted better than it looked...

Whilst Jurrasic World was on TV the other night (I do like a dinosaur movie), I thought I'd be productive and crack open the rest of my hazels from the allotment. There's a nice big bowlful, which I'll toast in the oven next time we put it on...I love their flavour, it's so good.

And I figured it was time to use up the stored apples from the shed. Most have kept pretty well, wrapped in newspaper. I chopped these up and cooked with some mixed berries from the freezer - gooseberries, raspberries, black currants, and sweetened with a few spoonfuls of a previous year's elderberry jelly. That's breakfast toppings sorted for a while.

I haven't sown any seeds yet but today I brought in a trayful of compost to warm up....(and covered it with another tray so it doesn't dry out). I'm planning on growing some onions from seed this year, as well as from sets. I'll also start off some tomatoes and peppers in the next few days.  But most crops don't need sowing for at least a month or two so I'm not panicking just at the moment.

After a sunny few days, the weather took a damp turn today. It's off out to Eves Hill Veg Co volunteering tomorrow (community market garden) when apparently the drizzle will continue unfortunately but at least it's not the predicted minus six degrees coming later in the week! 

Thanks for reading, I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Harvest Monday (erm...Wednesday) - early February

Well I've been very tardy this week...where has the time gone? So now it's Wednesday but I can just about stretch the old memory back to last week (listening to the cogs whirling).

I had a nice little harvest of kale, leeks and corn salad. Some of the kale plants have started to look like they're bolting a bit so I cut the whole top of these plants off, rather than just harvesting individual leaves. With any luck the stalks left in the ground should put out a few new leaves as spring progresses. Mind you, I still have quite a number of kale plants growing along ok, so we'll not be going short just yet. The leeks are ok too, continuing to bulk-up with the lengthening days. Harvesting alternate leeks where possible gives the ones left behind more space to grow as well. The corn salad is dotted around all over the plot as I let it self seed (it also has really lovely little flowers, so worth leaving some just for that too). 

Over winter I've stored some of the my beetroot from the allotment in the brick shed in the front yard. It's kept quite well but some of the smaller beets had started to go a bit soft. So it was time to cook them all up.

I was using-up some old seeds left over so had a few varieties, including the beautiful chioggia. However! I actually prefer the flavour of the deeper red varieties (controversial). 

Jan made a delicious potato pizza for tea on Saturday (which was a nice surprise to come home to after I'd been out all day). The base is made with potato and flour, which sounds weird but is really nice. Anyway, she used some of the beetroot for the topping, sliced thinly, and some rocket growing in the lean-to greenhouse. Jan, you can definitely make that again (hint hint, if you ever read this).


I also made a salad with roughly chopped beets, corn salad and sprouted lentils. The beets are quite sweet so I didn't bother with a dressing.

The corn salad looks nice when it's washed but beforehand was a bit grubby - all the rain we've had splashes soil up onto the leaves, and the small leaves are a bit fiddly to clean...but they're worth it for tasty fleshy goodness.

The last few photos are of future-food....Autumn-sown broad beans doing ok on the allotment (the sticks were to stop cats using the area as a toilet)

Borlotti bean seeds I saved last year. I actually froze these in a jar for a couple of weeks recently because the previous year when I'd also saved some seed, they got ruined by bean weevils, which emerge from the seed, munching holes everywhere. So popping them in the freezer kills off any beasties that may be lurking inside. It's important to freeze them in a jar because it keeps moisture away from the bean (plus make sure you thaw them out whilst still in the jar too).

And catkins on one of my hazel trees on the allotment, fortunately still hanging in there despite the strong winds of late. I've seen lots of catkins on the floor in other places so am lucky to have these on mine. If you look really really closely you may be able to see the tiny red female flowers on the tips of some branches - I tried to get a close up but they were so small the camera wouldn't focus. Well, hopefully I'll get some hazel nuts later in the autumn anyway, as catkins + flowers = nuts. I've got some still left from last autumn in a tray, they're so nice lightly toasted...mmm a real treat.

It's lucky I hadn't planned to go to the plot today - we woke up to snow on the ground, followed by some chilly rain. Though yesterday at Eves Hill Veg Co (where I volunteer) the snow didn't put us feet got a bit cold though, I need to get better insulated wellies!

Thanks for reading and sorry for the lateness. I'm linking in with Harvest Monday, kindly hosted again by Dave from Our Happy Acres. (Thanks go to Michelle at From Seed to Table for hosting last month).